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Fierce Defender Steps Down from Amazon after 23 Years

Fierce Defender Steps Down from Amazon after 23 Years

Dave Clark, who played a pivotal role in building Amazon’s fulfillment and transportation networks, is leaving the company. He spent most of his time at Amazon in operations, ultimately leading Worldwide Operations, and more recently leading Worldwide Consumer.

Amazon relied on those logistics networks during the pandemic when the marketplace saw soaring demand, though the company initially prioritized essential and high-demand goods, putting pressure on merchants who had grown to rely on Amazon’s fulfillment services.

In November of 2021, Amazon told sellers that since the start of the pandemic it had more than doubled its US fulfillment capacity, which included opening over 350 new fulfillment centers, sortation centers, regional air hubs, and delivery stations in the US. But this year, Amazon found itself with a new, unfamiliar problem: excess capacity, with reports that Amazon is now trying to sublease space in its fulfillment facilities.

In a presentation at the Amazon Accelerate seller conference in 2021, Clark talked about his personal connection to small business. His family owned a carpet store in Florida, and he said he watched as big-box stores like Home Depot arrived at a time before Amazon launched to give small businesses the benefit of reaching a broader audience.

Sellers are Amazon’s customers, Clark said, adding that he believed Amazon could help small sellers on its platform with brand development. He said he understood that sellers really want predictability, stability, and transparency and said he was focusing on how to engage more directly and more transparently with sellers.

Clark was active on Twitter for many years but drew attention last year when he fiercely defended Amazon on the social networking platform, going so far as to spar with Senator Bernie Sanders. He was also reported to have fought actively against the push by some workers to unionize.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy sent a note to employees on Friday announcing Clark’s departure, which Amazon published on its corporate blog along with a letter from the departing executive. Jassy, who took over as CEO from founder Jeff Bezos in 2016, thanked Clark and told employees, “we’re trying to be thoughtful in our plans for Dave’s succession and any changes we make. I expect to be ready with an update for you over the next few weeks.”

Jassy credited Clark with building Amazon’s transportation network from scratch and with having developed significant talent throughout the organization.

Clark said in his letter to employees, “As much as I have loved the ride, it is time for me to say goodbye to start a new journey,” but he did not provide details about what’s next in his career. He said there were only six fulfillment centers when he started at the company, which was about 7 years before the launch of Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

Clark’s last day will be July 1, according to Amazon’s SEC filings, which also reveal he earned $56 million in total compensation in 2021 and $46 million in 2020.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.